HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – It has been a long week, an emotional week for law enforcement throughout Connecticut and the region. He comes from a large family of State Troopers, and the turnout of support was overwhelming. 

Thousands of officers and troopers, from all around Connecticut, all around the country, traveled through the rain, through the dark clouds with polished gold badges wrapped in black to pay respects to one of their own. 

Troopers from California to New York, Texas to New Mexico, stood at attention for their colleague in the casket, and to stand behind the family of Sergeant Bryan Mole.

“First of all, you think about the family the family is now without a husband and a father a brother a son, and what that means moving forward, also what it means to the department,” said Butch Hyatt, Guilford Police Department.

Sergeant Mohl is the 25th trooper to be killed in the line of duty, and today they remember him for the man, and leader that he was. A field training officer to many brand-new young troopers fresh out of Academy, a mentor to others, and A good friend, someone you could rely on. And while Many people Officers didn’t know him, they knew what he stood for, and what he did for the people of Connecticut. 

“Your wife your kids know when you walk out that door, you might not come back,” said Chief Edward Stephens, Wolcott Police Department.

Dennis Lopes flew in from New Mexico to stand at attention in the rain for a fallen colleague.

“We will go any distance to show our support… Why? When you become a police officer you’ll understand that more, it’s about the respect and the earth we take and what we have to do on a daily basis,” said Dennis Lopes, New Mexico State Police.

When you look around at all of the different states and towns they’re here, many didn’t know him, but how well-known is a Sgt. Mohl? News 8 talked to a California trooper who came out here because he says this is my friend, I know him, and there are no words for the loss they’re feeling.

“Also, what it does to the department sometimes it helps brings the department together and a little closer, people understand that it could be anybody at any time,” Chief Stephens said.

Sgt. Mohl comes from a large law-enforcement family, with two brothers in the New York State Police one a major, another one a sergeant. There is a heavy presence of New York State Troopers standing side-by-side with Connecticut Troopers on the ground as well as in the air.

After the funeral Connecticut State Police Trooper, one in a New York State Police helicopter will fly over the funeral at the end.

“In order to mitigate negative staffing impacts on Texas healthcare systems and EMS agencies, the state of Texas will only allow personnel deploying for this emergency response to be NON-RESIDENTS of Texas only and to have not been employed by a Texas Acute Care hospital or EMS agency within 30 days.

This is mandated from the state of Texas. All healthcare workers with applicable licensure are eligible for ANY Krucial Staffing contract opportunities that are direct agreements and not directed by entities outside of the healthcare facility,” Krucial Staffing posted on Instagram.

A quick search on several travel nurse job boards will find many job postings stating that Texas is not currently accepting nurses who are residents and who work in Texas to work for FEMA or government-funded disaster contracts. Here is one such job posting. 

We reached out to Krucial Staffing for information on the mandate and instructions on how out-of-state nurses can apply. Here is their response,

We are following the mandate from the state of Texas that those healthcare personnel Krucial Staffing recruits for deployment in Texas must be non-residents of Texas and cannot have been employed by a Texas Acute Care hospital or EMS agency within 30 days.

All healthcare workers that meet this standard and have applicable licensure are eligible for any Krucial Staffing contract opportunities that are direct agreements and not directed by entities outside of the healthcare facility.

Our mission is to help the hospitals and ultimately the individuals who are suffering in their greatest time of need. If you are interested in applying with Krucial Staffing, please go to this link. 

Details

Governor Abbott passed a mandate that prohibits Texas residents who are currently employed from working for FEMA or state-funded disaster response agencies. The problem apparently lies in this sentence from his August 9, 2021 press release announcing the actions he planned to take in response to rising COVID-19 cases: “The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) will be utilizing staffing agencies to provide medical personnel from out-of-state to Texas health care facilities to assist in COVID-19 operations.”

Apparently, that little stipulation that the medical personnel is from out-of-state has resulted in current employed Texas nurses or current travelers based in Texas being unable to work government-funded disaster response contracts if they have been employed at a hospital within the state in the past 30 days.

Texas in Dire Need of Thousand of Nurses

Texas is looking to fill 6,500 healthcare positions from out-of-state or unemployed Texas nurses to help with the COVID-19 response. Texas is dealing with a record number of ICU hospitalizations from COVID-19 and thanks to a severe shortage of nurses, the state has extended its state of emergency. 

Last Monday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott requested help from the Texas Department of State in dealing with the surge in cases. Part of that help included funding to hire travel nurses as outlined in the document titled, “Governor Abbott’s Proactive Response To The Coronavirus Threat.”

However,

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. State Department raised their travel alert levels for Jamaica due to the number of COVID-19 cases and other factors.

The CDC on Tuesday raised Jamaica to a level 4, which signifies “very high” COVID levels and means travelers should avoid travel to the popular Caribbean vacation destination. Those who must travel to Jamaica, the CDC travel health notice says, should be be fully vaccinated.

The State Department on Tuesday raised its travel advisory for Jamaica to level 4, which means do not travel, due to COVID cases and crime in certain areas of Kingston, Montego Bay and Spanish Town.

►International travel:European Union countries tightening COVID-19 restrictions for US tourists

►Travel test:Here’s what travelers should know about at-home COVID-19 tests

Plenty of other vacation destinations are rated level 4 by the CDC, including the Bahamas, U.S. Virgin Islands, France and the United Kingdom.

The CDC raised the alert levels last week for Puerto Rico, Guam, Saint Lucia and Switzerland to Guam, among other destinations, to level 4.

The CDC assesses COVID-19 risk based on each destination’s new cases and new case trajectory. The Travel Health Notice level can be raised if a large increase in COVID-19 cases is reported or a destination’s case count meets or exceeds the threshold for a higher level for 14 straight days. Level 4 destinations have more than 500 new cases per 100,000 people over the past 28 days or more than 500 cases period if their population is smaller than 100,000.

Contributing: Eve Chen, USA TODAY 

KANKAKEE — After being a state-recognized school for nearly all of its 40-year history, Kankakee Trinity Academy was moved to “unrecognized” status for not enforcing the state mask mandate, and its leaders have decided to seek accreditation elsewhere.

The private pre-K – 12 school was notified of the change in status in an Aug. 30 letter from the Illinois State Board of Education, which indicated that the school had lost access to state funding and its ability to participate in Illinois Elementary School Association and Illinois High School Association competitions.

In response, school leaders said they will not implement the mask mandate, and instead they have begun the process to gain accreditation with the Association of Christian Schools International.

Tom Brands, president of the KTA Board of Directors, said the board discussed seeking accreditation with this organization several years ago, but the move was tabled.

In light of the mask issue, that option became a more serious consideration, he said.

“We are so closely aligned with what we require, that we do not believe there will be much to this process,” Brands said. “In other words, we already have a lot of things in place that they require.”

In a letter to parents regarding the decision, the board said the school has begun the “Crosswalk to Accreditation” process and anticipates KTA will gain full accreditation with the organization by Jan. 1, 2022.

“Full accreditation with ACSI means that your child will have access to any college or university throughout the world,” the letter states.

Higher education institutions require high school diplomas from schools with official accreditation and/or state recognition.

Principal Brad Prairie added that the school has been a member of the ACSI for at least 20 years, but it has not pursued accreditation from the organization until now.

KTA was founded in 1981, and in February 1983, it was evaluated and granted full recognition status by ISBE following a visit from the state, according to the school’s website.

“It’s been a blessing for us to be recognized [by the state] for 40 years,” Prairie said. “We are appreciative of that.”

Prairie said the only state money KTA receives is Title II funding, which is designated for training teachers and principals, but the school does not rely heavily on state funds in the same way public schools do.

The letter from ISBE also indicated the school would no longer be eligible for the Children’s Tuition Fund, a tax-credit program for private schools, Prairie said.

“[State funding] is very minimal,” Brands added. “It’s not anything that impacts our decision whatsoever. The state does almost nothing for us.”

For athletics, Prairie said students will still compete against other Christian schools.

“It would involve some travel,” Prairie noted. “We would definitely be traveling more than if we were playing locally. You have northwestern Indiana schools, the suburbs of Chicago; there’s lots of directions where there’s Christian schools.”

School officials declined to comment on COVID-19 concerns or other precautions the school is taking in

RICHMOND, Va., Sept. 1, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) has recognized Allianz Partners as their 2021 Travel Insurance Partner of the Year. The award was determined by ASTA’s individual members, who voted to recognize the preferred partners that show dedication and support for ASTA and the travel advisor community.

The annual awards were presented at ASTA’s Global Convention held in Chicago from August 23 to 25, 2021. As one of the travel industry’s premier organizations, ASTA honored 15 travel supplier partners who support ASTA’s travel advisor members and make lasting, meaningful contributions to the travel industry. Eleven distinct membership awards were also given to individuals and groups that exhibit excellence and advocacy.

“We’re honored to be named ASTA’s Travel Insurance Partner of the Year, during a time when travel insurance has become even more important to travel advisors and their clients,” said Richard Aquino, Vice President and Head of Sales at Allianz Partners. “Travel advisors are leading the effort to move travel recovery forward and we’re pleased to support them in this important mission.”

Allianz offers travel insurance* through several major U.S. airlines, leading travel agents, online travel agencies, other travel suppliers, and directly to consumers. For more information, please visit http://www.allianztravelinsurance.com.

About Allianz Partners

Allianz Partners (AGA Service Company) is a leading consumer specialty insurance and assistance company with operation centers in 35 countries. In the United States, the company offers Allianz Travel-branded travel protection plans and serves over 45 million customers annually. In addition to travel insurance, the company offers tuition insurance, event ticket protection, registration protection for endurance events and unique travel assistance services such as international medical assistance and concierge services. The company also serves as an outsource provider for in-bound call center services and claims administration for property and casualty insurers and credit card companies.

* Terms, conditions, and exclusions apply to all plans. Plans are available only to U.S. residents. Not all plans are available in all jurisdictions. Benefits and limits vary by plan. For a complete description of the coverage and benefit limits offered under your specific plan, carefully review your plan’s Letter of Confirmation/Declarations and Certificate of Insurance/Policy. Insurance coverage is underwritten by BCS Insurance Company (OH, Administrative Office: Oakbrook Terrace, IL), rated “A–” (Excellent) by A.M. Best Co., under BCS Form No. 52.201 series or 52.401 series, or Jefferson Insurance Company (NY, Administrative Office: Richmond, VA), rated “A+” (Superior) by A.M. Best Co., under Jefferson Form No. 101–C series or 101–P series, depending on state of residence. AGA Service Company d/b/a Allianz Global Assistance is the licensed producer and administrator of Allianz Travel-branded travel protection plans in the U.S. and an affiliate of Jefferson Insurance Company. Allianz Global Assistance, TravelSmart, and AgentSmart are marks of AGA Service Company or its affiliates. The insured shall not receive any special benefit or advantage due to the affiliation between Allianz Global Assistance and Jefferson Insurance Company. Plans include insurance and assistance services.

(WTTW News)(WTTW News)

Vermont is the only state not covered by the city’s COVID-19 travel advisory, as the surge of COVID-19 driven by the delta variant of the virus shows no sign of slowing.

In all, the advisory covers 48 states as well as Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands, according to an announcement from Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office. 

Unvaccinated visitors to Chicago from those states are urged to quarantine for 10 days or record a negative test for the coronavirus within 72 hours of their arrival, officials said.

Families with children younger than 12, who are not eligible for the vaccine, should not travel during the Labor Day holiday, said Dr. Allison Arwady, the commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health.

In addition, unvaccinated travelers should get tested three to five days before they leave on their trip as well as three to five days after they return, according to new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Even if they test negative, they should self-quarantine for seven days. Those who don’t take a test should quarantine for 10 days after travel, according to the new guidance.

Unvaccinated travelers should avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days, even with a negative test, according to the new guidance.

The city’s travel order, first implemented in July 2020, did not include any states as of June 1 as vaccination efforts tamped down new infections and spurred reopenings across the United States. On June 29, officials announced the order would become an advisory, as COVID-19 cases remained low across the nation.

However, progress in stopping COVID-19 infections has been reversed with the spread of the more transmissible delta variant of the virus, officials said. 

Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, Washington, D.C., and Guam were added to the travel advisory Tuesday.

Vermont is the only state where the confirmed number of new COVID-19 cases is less than 15 per day per 100,000 residents, the standard for states and territories to be added to the travel advisory, Chicago officials said.

Chicago is averaging 17.2 new cases per day per 100,000 residents. Illinois is averaging 22 cases per day, according to data from the Chicago Department of Public Health.

An average of 467 Chicagoans have been diagnosed each day with the coronavirus during the past week, a 1% increase from the previous week, according to Chicago Department of Public Health data.

That flattening in new confirmed COVID-19 cases is due to an increase in people wearing masks in indoor public places, Arwady said. City officials recommended that everyone, regardless of their vaccination status, wear masks indoors on July 30, and ordered everyone to wear a mask indoors on Aug. 20.

Since the mask order went back into effect, 16 businesses have been cited for flouting the order, city officials said.

The city’s test positivity rate is 4.3%, down from 4.5% from past week, while the number of tests dropped 1%

 

A trip to a National Park can be a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. They can also be crowded, and nearby lodging can be expensive.

With growing concerns of the delta variant, we’ve pinpointed incredible state parks from New York to California, for families who want a getaway that’s (hopefully) not too far away. Here are 10 picks ahead of Labor Day Weekend.

Lake Superior State Park in Bethel, New York

Lake Superior State Park in Bethel, New York.

Lake Superior State Park in Bethel, New York.
(Sullivan County Visitors Association)

Head to picture-perfect Sullivan County, where about 20 miles west of Monticello, lies this bucolic state park, spread over more than 1,000 acres with two bodies of water, Lake Superior and Chestnut Hill Pond enclosed within. There are beaches, boat launches and picnic areas, volleyball courts and a playground. In the winter, this year-round park is a mecca for ice fishing, hiking and sleigh riding.

When the time is right, book a stay at Villa Roma Resort, about nine miles from the park’s entrance, or Kenoza Hall, which sits at the location of the early twentieth century Catskills boarding house, Armbrust House, just eight miles away. There’s also YO1 Health Resort — 10 miles away — a veritable wellness paradise with naturopathic treatments, ayurvedic cuisine and yoga galore. If vacation rentals are more your speed, opt for Bush Kill Park or Crosslands Monticello, both through Red Cottage Inc., a portfolio of handsomely appointed cottages, cabin and luxury homes in the Catskills and Hudson Valley.

Fun fact: Bethel is where the 1969 Woodstock festival took place, and you can now catch a show at the sprawling outdoor arena Bethel Woods Performing Arts Center, or relive 1960s history at the Bethel Woods Museum.  

Patapsco Valley State Park in Ellicott City, Maryland

Patapsco Valley State Park in Ellicott City, Maryland.

Patapsco Valley State Park in Ellicott City, Maryland.
(Courtesy of Patapsco Valley State Park )

Maryland’s oldest state park, extends along 32 ​miles of the Patapsco River with some 16,043 acres and eight developed recreational areas ripe for exploration. 

On your visit look for a stone marker for the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, which follows the path of Smith and his fellow explorers as they surveyed a large part of the Northeast. The park is also the site of some of the state’s first mills and factories, America’s first common-carrier railroad and the world’s first underwater hydroelectric plant. 

Anglers, bring your fishing rods, and aqua babies can also enjoy some great canoeing here. Or, opt for overnight camping followed by a lazy breakfast spread in a picnic area before taking a short ride to Baltimore the next day to chase your rural escape with some city frolicking. Our vote is the Hotel Revival in the historic Mount Vernon neighborhood or a splurge-worthy night at  The Ivy Hotel, Maryland’s only Relais & Chateaux property.

State Forest State Park Walden, Colorado

State Forest Walden Colorado. (Colorado Parks & Wildlife). 

State Forest Walden Colorado. (Colorado Parks & Wildlife). 

Located in Jackson and Larimer counties, just east of Walden proper, 360-degrees of breathtaking views

Florida has recovered more than 950,000 jobs since the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the nation’s economy last spring with mandatory business shutdowns that inflicted sudden but enduring damage on the Sunshine State’s $90 billion tourist/hospitality industry.

According to Florida Chamber of Commerce Chief Economist Dr. Jerry Parrish, the state has come a long way since the mass furloughs and layoffs of April 2020, which temporarily cost as many as 1.3 million Floridians their jobs.

“We still have a few more (jobs to gain) to go get back to the peak of 9 million non-farm jobs” in the state, Parrish said in a recently-posted August edition of the Chamber’s Florida By the Numbers video presentation.

Get more from the Citrus County Chronicle

Citing the metrics in the Chamber’s Florida Scorecard, Parrish said about 315,800 jobs that existed before the pandemic have not, thus far, been “recovered,” even though the number of jobs available in the state now exceeds job openings prior to March 2020.

“Of the 315,800 jobs we are still trying to recover,” Parrish said, 63% – or about 194,000 jobs – are in the economy’s leisure and hospitality sector. The state has not recovered 30,000 education and health service jobs or 27,000 jobs in the trade and transportation sector, according to the Chamber.

Since January, Florida businesses have restored 264,300 jobs of the 950,000 that have been recovered since April 2020. That pace is accelerating, especially in the leisure/hospitality sector, Parrish said.

“In the last two months, there has been a recovery of nearly 140,000 jobs,” he said.

Parrish said despite the loss of more than 300,000 former jobs, Florida employers still face a “workforce crisis as we work our way back to pre-COVID numbers” because they are finding it difficult to fill new positions.

“Currently, we have 545,200 jobs looking for people, an increase from last month’s 528,300, and 530,000 people still looking for jobs – simply not enough Floridians with the proper skills to fill in the gaps,” Parrish said, citing last week’s unemployment figures posted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor that said Florida’s unemployment rate was 5.1%, more than 1.2% higher than February 2020.

Florida’s June unemployment rate was 5%, reflecting that an estimated 523,000 Floridians qualified as unemployed from a workforce of 10.398 million. That rate was 5.1% in July with 530,000 qualifying as unemployed.

State officials, repeatedly pointing to businesses struggling to find workers, in June reinstated a “work search” rule that requires people claiming unemployment benefits to apply for five jobs a week.

Gov. Ron DeSantis also suspended Florida’s participation in a federal program that offered $300 a week to unemployed people on top of the maximum $275 a week in state benefits.

The fact that “the unemployment rate is going up just means more people are looking forward jobs,” Parrish said, noting the rate “is not something to worry about” because, in the grand scheme of things, Florida is expecting 4 million new residents who will create the need to

Two healthcare staffing agencies we spoke with said Texas is a hotspot for travel nurse job openings as hospitals try to fill thousands of open positions statewide.

TEXAS, USA — COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are surging in Texas, and hospitals are in need of more nurses. We spoke with the leaders of two different health care staffing companies to get an inside look at what they are seeing right now.

“Texas is a hotbed. The demand is real,” said John Maaske, the CEO of Triage Staffing. “We’ve seen more jobs come up in Texas than we have any other state. Texas isn’t necessarily leading the nation as a percentage of increases, but it is in terms of total job volume.”

John Maaske said in the past month, Texas has posted more travel nurse jobs than anywhere else in the country.

“We saw 3,200 new jobs come up in Texas just related to COVID demand. 3,200 jobs. And that just was last month,” said Maaske. “In August, 1,800 jobs have already come up and we’re only six days into the month.”

We also spoke with the CEO of another medical staffing company called BluePipes, who said he has seen the number of job postings for travel nurses in Texas double since January 2021. And Austin has seen an even bigger increase than the statewide average.

“So we have had about a 150% increase in the number of jobs posted on our platform from January to now in Austin,” shared Kyle Schmidt, the co-founder and CEO of Blue Pipes.

Other states are also facing nursing shortages, so hospitals are having to pay more to get nurses to work for them. Kyle Schmidt told KVUE that right now in Texas, the highest-paying travel nurse jobs he has seen are around $120 an hour. But he said some places are still just offering the more average pay of $35 to $40 an hour.

“I would say that a plurality of the jobs are between, say, $55 and $80 per hour, which is quite lucrative for registered nurses,” said Schmidt. “Although, I will say, the job that they’re undertaking is quite a difficult task currently.”

“We’ve seen an increase in pay upwards of 30% to 50% of where it was just three months ago, as COVID demand has increased,” added Maaske.

We reached out to Ascension Seton, Baylor Scott & White Health, and St. David’s healthcare to see how they are doing with staffing and if they are offering higher pay incentives.

They sent KVUE the following joint statement:

“Ascension Seton, Baylor Scott & White Health and St. David’s HealthCare continue to monitor the increase in COVID-19 cases and execute plans to ensure hospitals have the staff and resources they need to care for our community. 

Given the recent surge in hospitalizations affecting facilities in Central Texas and throughout the state—and the statewide nursing shortage—all three healthcare systems are sourcing staff using multiple resources, increasing shifts, paying critical staffing bonuses and redeploying non-nursing

New unemployment claims in Washington dipped slightly last week as a rebounding state economy continued to add more jobs.

But that encouraging news comes with a warning from the state’s economist: Thanks to surging COVID-19 cases, the state could see renewed layoffs and a slowdown in recent hiring.

“I’m not expecting a dramatic change, but one that could slow down the pace of job growth from where the state was the last two months,” said Paul Turek, ESD’s state economist.  

Washingtonians filed 5,357 new, or “initial,” claims for unemployment benefits last week, a 3.1% decrease from the prior week, the state Employment Security Department (ESD) reported Thursday. Nationally, new claims rose 1.1% over the prior week, to 353,000, the U.S. Labor Department reported Thursday.

The state’s job market continued to recover: In July, Washington added 22,700 jobs and the unemployment rate fell to 5.1%, from 5.2% in June, the ESD reported on Tuesday. The U.S. unemployment rate for July was 5.4%.

But those encouraging trends are likely to be affected by recent increases of COVID-19 cases from the highly infectious delta variant of the coronavirus, which has already prompted new government restrictions.

Indeed, although initial claims remain dramatically lower than during the early months of the pandemic, their numbers have crept back up in recent weeks. The 4-week moving average for regular initial claims last week was 5,306, which was up nearly 4% from a week earlier and is 2.1% higher than it was at the same period in 2019, ESD reported.

Turek said those trends might increase moderately if rising case counts result in renewed business restrictions and consumer anxieties that affect hiring. Already, some big employers have delayed plans to bring remote workers back to the office.

“This might, in turn, affect restaurants who might be relying on these workers who would go out to lunch,” Turek said. “There might be less business meetings and travel which could affect the transportation industry.”

“Consumers might also become more reluctant to travel and eat out and delay vacation plans, thereby affecting leisure and hospitality again,” Turek added

He also noted that because the July jobs report uses data from the beginning of the month, “the full impact of the variant” may not be apparent until next month.

That prospect comes as the state’s labor shortage, though perhaps not as severe as earlier this summer, also remains a concern.

The state’s leisure and hospitality sector, which has struggled for months to hire enough workers, added 11,800 jobs in July, according to ESD data.

Demand for workers remains elevated. Postings for new leisure and hospitality jobs, though down modestly from earlier this month, are again surging and were 32% higher than in January 2020, as of Aug. 20, according to data presented by Harvard University’s Economic Tracker. Overall job postings were up 16.8% in Washington.

Some employers have said the labor shortage has been exacerbated by the $300-a-week enhanced federal unemployment benefits, which expire after Labor Day.

In Washington state,